Hair Habits, Then & Now: Breakage, Hair Porosity, Deep Conditioning, and Retaining Moisture
Updated: May 21
So, breakage is a BIG DEAL. It was a major thing that I had to deal with when transitioning (and actually while relaxed), but especially after my big chop. But first, let's determine the difference between breakage and natural, healthy shedding.
The Difference Between Breakage and Shedding
Breakage is when your hair literally breaks due to damage, dryness, lack of protein or nutrients.
Breakage results in poor length retention, split ends, and unhealthy hair.
Usually breakage looks like broken pieces of hair strands that you find on your clothes, on the floor, and are especially apparent when you're manipulating your hair (like putting it in a bun and a bunch of hair flakes fall to the ground).
Breakage sometimes is hard to fix, as it may be due to underlying factors. Shedding on the other hand, is something that naturally occurs.
Hair does die and naturally falls from the scalp, but when it isn't natural is hair loss and can be due to health factors (but of course I am not a professional so please consult with a doctor about this).
In the picture above, you can see an example of natural and healthy shedding after I got out of the shower. I detangled my hair with my Denman brush. When brushing through I usually get this size clump or slightly larger.
What you want to pay attention to is the size of your shedding hair in proportion to your hair's thickness and length. When I'm neglecting my hair, the size of my hair clump is very large (usually after wearing my hair in a bun for a few days before wash day).
How to Avoid Breakage and Repair Hair
Most of the time, breakage is paired with having dry hair. For example, you can have high porosity, making it hard for you to keep your hair moisturized.
And that, brings up the next topic which can assist in avoiding breakage, preventing it, and repairing damaged hair.
Hair porosity is the hair's ability to absorb material through the cuticle layer, the outer layer of the hair shaft.
The cuticle is made of cells that can be frayed, damaged, lay flat, or healthy raised.
So, you can think of porosity in terms of hair having a high, low, or regular tolerance to absorb moisture, water, etc.
I took Belle Bar Organic's quiz, Curls Bot quiz and Glow by Daye's quiz (you can hit “changed my mind” for this quiz, so you don’t have to opt-in and give away your soul, I mean your email), to see what porosity I had, in addition to doing the porosity test.
I actually had high porosity when transitioning. My hair required a lot of maintenance. But it seemed like whatever I did, it was never enough to keep it moisturized and breakage-free.
This type of porosity can be more prone to breakage, because it is easier for the hair to become dry. The cuticle is frayed or raised when you have high hair porosity and your hair is more likely to gobble up water and moisture—but fear not!
This is my porosity—yay balance! It took a lot to get here...years, actually. Your porosity can change and I believe mine did because I turned to less toxic ingredients in my products, kept up with a healthy diet, and hair care routine.
Medium porosity is also known as regular or normal porosity and this hair type tends to mean your hair is easy to work with and retains a balanced amount of moisture.
The cuticle lies in a balanced state, so it can absorb moisture but not too much or too little.
Low Porosity hair can be prone to products building up on the scalp and hair, as the cuticle lays very flat, making hair feel caked when adding oils, butters, etc.
But no worries because there are also tips for combating low porosity!
When I had relaxed hair, it was easily caked down with product, so my hair appreciated styling creams that were light, in addition to serums.
Using tea tree shampoos and conditioners were helpful because these natural products can remove dead skin cells on the scalp and product build-up. In addition to bentonite clay masks (peep the details on how I clarify my hair now using this clay concoction, here)! But this product can also affect your natural oil production if used too often, so keep that in mind!
Every now and then (may every month or so), using tea tree oil or even The Yellow Bird's Eucalyptus Shampoo bar (peep my review) can help remove extra build-up.
You can also read Naturally Curly's post on hair porosity, where they give you info on what each porosity type needs in regard to products, oils, serums, etc.
Also, feel free to peep my new blog post that talks more in depth about hair porosity!
When transitioning, deep conditioning was my best friend and helped my dry hair come back to life.
At the time, I loved Hask Hair's Argan Oil Deep Conditioning Treatment. I no longer deep condition now, but this product was so amazing, that I think I'll try it out again.
The only thing I don't like is that it isn't really eco-friendly because it comes in such small packaging/single-use packaging.
Deep conditioning, however, is great for curly hair, as it can provide moisture and revitalize damaged hair. It is especially great to do after straightening your hair or using heat.
If you have balanced hair (such as medium porosity) and it is healthy, etc., then don't feel obliged to deep condition because "it is what you are supposed to do." The curly method, I believe, is really doing what works for YOUR hair.
Which goes into retaining moisture...
Sometimes, using too much of something can negatively affect your hair. Retaining moisture really is having a balanced absorption of moisture within the cuticle.
When transitioning, my favorite thing to do was use a deep conditioner or leave in conditioner, comb through my hair with my Denman brush, and then put a hair cap on.
I have an at-home hairdryer that I can sit under, so I would sit under the hairdryer for about 15-20 minutes and then rinse the leave-in or deep conditioner out. I would do this about every 2-3 weeks, depending on how my moisturized my hair felt.
Just remember that avoiding damaging color treatments, reducing heat, and maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, your hair (over some time) can improve and become balanced again!
Peep the following Hair Habits, Then & Now post series, for tips on:
And, this additional blog post on hair growth!